samedi 23 avril 2022

Axiom Mission 1 Undock Postponed to Sunday, Space Station Reboosts


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

April 23, 2022

At the conclusion of a weather briefing ahead of today’s planned undocking, NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams elected to wave off today’s undocking attempt due to a diurnal low wind trough which has been causing marginally high winds at the splashdown sites. The Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew is now targeting to undock from the International Space Station 8:55 p.m. EDT Sunday, April 24.

Image above: The full quarter Moon is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbited 261 miles above the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on April 9, 2022. Image Credit: NASA.

Weather permitting, the Ax-1 crew is targeted to close the hatch about 6:45 p.m. Sunday, April 24, to begin the journey home in SpaceX Dragon Endeavour with splashdown off the coast of Florida approximately 1:00 p.m. Monday, April 25.

NASA Ax-1 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Sunday, April 24

    6:30 p.m. – Coverage begins for hatch closure at approximately 6:45 p.m.
    8:30 p.m. – Coverage begins for undocking at about 8:55 p.m.

Axiom Space will resume coverage of Dragon’s re-entry and splashdown beginning at noon Monday, April 25, on the company’s website:

The Russian Progress 79 fired its thrusters for 10 minutes, 23 seconds today at 9:25 a.m. This space station reboost maneuver optimizes phasing for future visiting vehicles arriving at the station. The reboost increased the orbiting laboratory’s altitude by 9/10 of a mile at apogee and 1.3 miles at perigee and left the station in an orbit of 264.7 x 254.2 statute miles.

Related articles:

Station Crew Busy with Research as Managers Work Ax-1, Crew-4 Missions

NASA, Axiom Space, SpaceX Wave Off Private Astronaut Mission Undocking

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Commercial Crew:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.


vendredi 22 avril 2022

CERN - Large Hadron Collider restarts


CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research logo.

April 22, 2022

Beams of protons are again circulating around the collider’s 27-kilometre ring, marking the end of a multiple-year hiatus for upgrade work

The LHC tunnel at point 1 (Image: CERN)

The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator has restarted after a break of more than three years for maintenance, consolidation and upgrade work. Today, 22 April, at 12:16 CEST, two beams of protons circulated in opposite directions around the Large Hadron Collider’s 27-kilometre ring at their injection energy of 450 billion electronvolts (450 GeV).

“These beams circulated at injection energy and contained a relatively small number of protons. High-intensity, high-energy collisions are a couple of months away,” says the Head of CERN’s Beams department, Rhodri Jones. “But first beams represent the successful restart of the accelerator after all the hard work of the long shutdown.”

“The machines and facilities underwent major upgrades during the second long shutdown of CERN’s accelerator complex,” says CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology, Mike Lamont. “The LHC itself has undergone an extensive consolidation programme and will now operate at an even higher energy and, thanks to major improvements in the injector complex, it will deliver significantly more data to the upgraded LHC experiments.”

Pilot beams circulated in the LHC for a brief period in October 2021. However, the beams that circulated today mark not only the end of the second long shutdown for the LHC but also the beginning of preparations for four years of physics-data taking, which is expected to start this summer.

Until then, LHC experts will work around the clock to progressively recommission the machine and safely ramp up the energy and intensity of the beams before delivering collisions to the experiments at a record energy of 13.6 trillion electronvolts (13.6 TeV).

Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Animation Credit: CERN

This third run of the LHC, called Run 3, will see the machine’s experiments collecting data from collisions not only at a record energy but also in unparalleled numbers. The ATLAS and CMS experiments can each expect to receive more collisions during this physics run than in the two previous physics runs combined, while LHCb, which underwent a complete revamp during the shutdown, can hope to see its collision count increase by a factor of three. Meanwhile, ALICE, a specialised detector for studying heavy-ion collisions, can expect a fifty times increase in the total number of recorded ion collisions, thanks to the recent completion of a major upgrade.

The unprecedented number of collisions will allow international teams of physicists at CERN and across the world to study the Higgs boson in great detail and put the Standard Model of particle physics and its various extensions to the most stringent tests yet.

Other things to look forward to in Run 3 include the operation of two new experiments, FASER and SND@LHC, designed to look for physics beyond the Standard Model; special proton–helium collisions to measure how often the antimatter counterparts of protons are produced in these collisions; and collisions involving oxygen ions that will improve physicists’ knowledge of cosmic-ray physics and the quark–gluon plasma, a state of matter that existed shortly after the Big Bang.

CERN highlights 2021


CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. Its business is fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. At CERN, the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments are used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.

The instruments used at CERN are particle accelerators and detectors. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.

Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 23 Member States.

Related links:

Large Hadron Collider (LHC):





Standard Model:

Higgs boson:



Cosmic-ray physics:

Quark–gluon plasma:

For more information about European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Visit:

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Best regards,

Space Station Science Highlights: Week of April 18, 2022


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

April 22, 2022

Crew members aboard the International Space Station conducted scientific investigations during the week of April 18 that included studying a new method for preserving biological materials, testing a technology for measuring radiation dose, and observing changes in muscle tone during spaceflight. The four-member crew of Axiom Space Mission 1 (Ax-1) is scheduled to depart the station on Saturday, April 23.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon Endurance, shown here docked to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, carried four Crew-3 astronauts to the orbiting lab. Image Credit: NASA.

The space station, continuously inhabited by humans for 21 years, has supported many scientific breakthroughs. A robust microgravity laboratory with dozens of research facilities and tools, the station supports investigations spanning every major scientific discipline, conveying benefits to future space exploration and advancing basic and applied research on Earth. The orbiting lab also provides a platform for a growing commercial presence in low-Earth orbit that includes research, satellite services, and in-space manufacturing.

Image above: Mount Vesuvius on Italy’s Gulf of Naples is pictured from the International Space Station as it orbits 260 miles above. Image Credit: NASA.

Here are details on some of the microgravity investigations currently taking place:

No freezing required

Rhodium Crystal Preservation studies using crystal formation to preserve biological material for research. Preservation is a necessity for research conducted in remote environments such as space, where immediate access to analytical equipment is limited. But some methods used to preserve biological samples, such as freezing, require special equipment and a power source. These crystal matrices do not require special conditions and could provide a way to maintain biological materials for research on future space missions. A more stable technique for preserving biological materials also has potential applications for research on Earth in remote locations and in areas where the ability to maintain a cold chain is limited. Crew members monitored hardware for the investigation during the week.

Illuminating radiation doses

Image above: This image shows the Lumina dosimeter installed on the space station. This ESA investigation demonstrates using optical fiber technology to monitor the radiation dose received by crew members in real time. Image Credit: NASA.

Lumina, an ESA (European Space Agency) investigation, demonstrates a dosimeter using optical fibers to monitor in real time the radiation dose received by crew members. The fibers darken when exposed to radiation, providing reliable measurements in complex radiation environments, and the device can handle the extreme conditions of space such as temperature variations. Monitoring radiation is a key challenge for future longer-term space exploration, and this technology could make it possible to anticipate and respond to potentially dangerous radiation flares, helping to protect the crew. This technology also has potential applications in the medical and nuclear industries on Earth. During the week, crew members transferred data from the Lumina device via a dedicated app on a tablet.

Managing muscles

ESA’s Myotones investigation observes changes in muscle properties such as tone and stiffness during long-term spaceflight. Muscle tone is important for postural control, awareness of body position, and muscle force, but the biomechanics are not well understood. A better understanding of these fundamental principles could help protect astronauts on future missions as well as support development of new treatments for issues caused by normal aging and restricted mobility on Earth. Crew members collected blood samples and conducted measurements for the investigation during the week.

Image above: The crew aboard the International Space Station has a window on Planet Earth. In this image an orbital sunrise beams across Earth's horizon revealing silhouetted clouds above the South China Sea. Image Credit: NASA.

Other investigations involving the crew:

- Hicari, an investigation from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), demonstrates a method to produce high-quality crystals of semiconductor material. The material shows potential for electronic devices that require less energy, and the production method also could support development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics.

- Vascular Aging, a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) investigation, collects data on vascular changes in astronauts. Results could support development of ways to reduce potential health risks to crew members as well as guide prevention measures and treatments for the effects of aging on Earth.

- SERFE investigates the effect of contamination and corrosion on a spacesuit thermal control system and microgravity’s effect on the system’s ability to regulate astronaut body temperature under various conditions. The technology could support development of spacesuits for future exploration missions and contribute to improvements in technology using evaporation for cooling on Earth.

- Students across Europe use two augmented Raspberry Pi computers aboard the space station for AstroPi, an education program coordinated by ESA. The program helps motivate students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

- For ESA’s CalliopEO, German school children write software to run experiments on a Calliope mini-computer aboard the space station. The experience helps motivate students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields and become the next generation of explorers.

- Actiwatch is a wearable monitor that continuously collects data on a crew member’s circadian rhythms, sleep-wake patterns, and activity during flight, beginning as soon as possible after arrival aboard the station.

- Standard Measures collects a set of core measurements from astronauts before, during, and after long-duration missions to create a data repository to monitor and interpret how humans adapt to living in space.

Space to Ground: Home: 04/22/2022

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Axiom Space Mission 1 (Ax-1):

Rhodium Crystal Preservation:



ISS National Lab:

Spot the Station:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video (NASA), Text, Credits: NASA/Ana Guzman/John Love, ISS Research Planning Integration Scientist Expedition 67.

Best regards,

Human Spaceflight Technologies Benefitting Earth


NASA - ARTEMIS Program logo.

April 22, 2022

Space exploration and its relationship with Earth is symbiotic. Often, what works for one benefits the other, and vice versa. This Earth Day, as NASA prepares to send humans farther into the solar system than ever before, the agency is advancing its understanding of fundamental sciences on the International Space Station and working on technologies for Artemis that will benefit future space exploration and life here on Earth. This ambitious exploration endeavor requires new technologies and global innovation to ensure our astronauts can safely and effectively conduct ground-breaking research today aboard the space station, soon at the Moon, and then at Mars. Many of those technologies developed to send our explorers deeper into space for longer periods of time can also come back to Earth for the benefit of humanity and the environment.

Earth rise on the Moon. Image Credits: Apollo 8/NASA

New Power Sources

As NASA learns more about living and working on the Moon, astronauts will begin to stay for long periods. This presents a unique set of challenges in terms of available sunlight and temperatures on the surface. To help overcome these challenges, NASA is advancing a broad portfolio of surface power generation and distribution systems – like batteries, solar, and fission – that will work together to ensure those missions have plentiful, reliable power required to be successful, while also providing ideas and solutions for improving and modernizing power grids here on Earth.

Fission Surface Power

Image above: Artist's concept of a fission power system on the lunar surface. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA is developing fission surface power , a green technology with zero carbon emission. When used with advanced fuel cells, fission power can not only generate clean and abundant electricity on Earth but also provide a source of hydrogen to power zero-emission vehicles. The advances NASA makes for lunar surface power systems will help reduce the size and complexity of systems on Earth and enhance the production of smaller systems that can be used to power small communities, decreasing our dependence on large, remote power plants and energy distribution costs.

Advanced Solar Arrays

NASA has supported the development of advanced solar array systems that are lighter, more compact, and produce more energy for long-duration missions to the Moon and beyond.

Redwire’s Roll-out Solar Array (ROSA) system -- developed with support from NASA -- uses a lightweight flexible composite blanket material to collect a large amount of sunlight while compactly stowing for launch. When commanded to deploy, the arrays unfurl like a yoga mat and lock into position.

This innovative system was tested on the International Space Station in 2017. Recently, a more advanced version of ROSA, called iROSA, was installed on the space station, and Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element will also use a much larger version of ROSA. This type of system could provide an easily transportable, reliable power solution for disaster response and other Earth-based applications.

Additionally, NASA will test solar cell technologies and measure solar array electrical surface charging to better understand power challenges on the Moon.

The Photovoltaic Investigation on the Lunar Surface, or PILS, experiment, will provide a flight demonstration of multiple innovative solar cell technologies that could be used for future lunar missions and perhaps applicable on Earth.

Additive Manufacturing

The ability to build spare parts, habitats, and other materials in-space is critical to the success of Artemis and other deep space exploration efforts. NASA has been very successful printing parts on the International Space Station and has now turned some of its efforts to manufacturing on the Moon.

3D-Printed Habitats

Image above: Artist's illustration of a 3D-printed habitat on Mars. Image Credit: NASA.

In 2019, NASA awarded over $2M for solutions to the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, a public prize competition aimed at developing a 3D-printed habitat for deep space exploration. The multi-phase challenge was designed to advance the construction technology for the Moon and Mars, but the technologies and processes can also be used to create sustainable housing solutions here on Earth.

Laserjet Solar Cells

While also related to space power, NASA is leveraging in-space printing to demonstrate a new solar technology called perovskite as alternative to silicon solar cells. The perovskite material’s use as a solar cell is a relatively new discovery, a very efficient converter of sunlight to electricity and may be transported into space as a liquid and printed onto panels while on the Moon or Mars. This solution could also have many Earth applications as well, like providing solar power to hard-to-reach areas in underdeveloped countries or during natural disaster recovery.

Cleaner Air, Water, Food

Long-duration space explorers will need fresh food, clean air, and a reliable water source, whether during an extended stay on the Moon or a two- to- three-year round trip to Mars. The same is true for people on Earth, where climate change and population growth already cause food insecurity for many communities.

Space Food

Image above: One way Plenty Unlimited maintains plant health is by using robotics in nearly every step of the farming process. Proprietary technology grows the company’s Spicy Mizuna Mix, shown here, and relies on data to optimize growing conditions. The growing environment mimics the closed-loop environment developed by NASA in the Biomass Production Chamber that demonstrated how to grow plants without sunlight and open air. Image Credit: Plenty Unlimited Inc.

Several technologies developed for space are already making impacts here on Earth, like advancements in vertical farming and bioreactors that cultivate edible protein sources. The lessons learned are inspiring an unconventional new generation of farmers. Additionally, solutions from NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge could enable new avenues for food production around the world, especially in extreme environments, resource-scarce regions, and in new places like urban areas and in locations where disasters disrupt critical infrastructure.

Environmental Control and Life Support Systems

Aboard the International Space Station, NASA is advancing technologies that purify air and water to keep astronauts safe and reduce the amount of supplies that need to be delivered aboard cargo resupply ships. In the ultimate indoor environment that has housed astronauts continuously for more than 20 years, NASA has reached water recycling and purification rates of more than 90%, including condensate from the air, sweat, and urine. Air-purifying technologies aboard the space station scrub impurities from the air and even break down harmful gaseous compounds into beneficial elements like oxygen. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, companies developing these clean air technologies were overwhelmed with demand from schools, hospitals, shopping centers, office buildings, airports, and even buses.

Pollution Detection

When Artemis astronauts return to the lunar surface, they’ll have to contend with the dust. Much like it did during Apollo, Moon dust gets into everything and is very abrasive, like tiny shards of glass, and can harm astronauts’ equipment and their health, namely their lungs.

Space Canary

Image above: At the end of a long day on the Moon, Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan rests inside the lunar module Challenger. Note the smudges of dust on his longjohns and forehead. Image Credits: NASA/Jack Schmitt.

Through a public-private partnership, NASA requested help from U.S. industry in addressing the lunar dust problem, and Lunar Outpost Inc., developed an air-quality sensor called Space Canary. The Canary-S is a self-contained, solar-powered unit that measures a variety of pollutants and provides measurements every minute via messages sent by cellular data to a secure cloud for access by company engineers and NASA. While Canary hasn’t been sent to the Moon yet, it is deployed in 15 states, and is used by the U.S. Forest Service to monitor forest-fire emissions in real-time.

MPASS – Aerosol Sensor

Developed as a highly accurate, early fire detection system for space, the Multi-Parameter Aerosol Scattering Sensor (MPASS), has the potential to become a public safety tool for aerosol detection, with the ability to detect atmospheric particles, enabling real-time environmental monitoring during volcanic activity or wildfires. This advanced sensor uses a durable, compact laser array – like those found in a DVD player – to analyze the interaction of light with particles. It’s compact size and lightweight makes it portable and flexible for uses in multiple environments, including mounting on remotely piloted aircraft.

There’s More Space in Your Life Than You Think!

The technology development path is a two-way street and sometimes what is created as a concept for human space exploration is applicable today on Earth. NASA works with dozens of space agencies and thousands of companies around the world to develop innovative technologies to advance human space travel. The technical leaps and bounds since the dawn of the space age have found far-reaching applications to improve life on Earth.  

Dive in to learn more about space in your life at:

Related links:

Fission surface power:

Roll-out Solar Array (ROSA):

Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element:

Photovoltaic Investigation on the Lunar Surface (PILS):

Developing a 3D-printed habitat for deep space exploration:

New solar technology called perovskite:

Vertical farming:


NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge:

Space Canary:

Multi-Parameter Aerosol Scattering Sensor (MPASS):

International Space Station (ISS):


Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Erin Mahoney.


China Space Station (CSS) - Tianzhou-3 relocation


CMS - China Manned Space logo.

April 22, 2022

Tianzhou-3 relocation, docking

The Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft was undocked on 19 April 2022, at 21:05 UTC (20 April, at 05:02 China Standard Time), and re-docked to the Tianhe Core Module on 20 April 2022, at 01:06 UTC (09:02 China Standard Time).

Tianzhou-3 relocation

According to CNSA, the Tianhe Core Module/Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft current configuration is in good condition. The Tianhe Core Module (天和核心舱) is the first and main component of the China Space Station (中国空间站). Tianzhou-3 (天舟三号) is the second cargo spacecraft to dock with the Tianhe Core Module.

China Space Station (中国空间站) final configuration

Related articles:

What’s next for the China Space Station in 2022 and 2023

China Space Station - The Shenzhou-13 crew back to Earth

For more information about China National Space Administration (CNSA), visit:
Images, Video, Text, Credits: China National Space Administration (CNSA)/China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television (CCTV)/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


From Supercomputers to Symbiotes, NASA in Silicon Valley Invests in the Earth


NASA logo.

April 22, 2022

From buildings that generate their own energy to trees that clean polluted groundwater, there’s no shortage of environmental innovation at NASA. This Earth Day, we’re highlighting a few of the programs at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley that are helping to understand, mitigate, and prepare for Earth’s changing climate.

Strengthening Diversity in the Earth Sciences

Image above: During the Student Airborne Science Activation summer program, students from groups historically underrepresented in the geosciences will collect data about land, ocean, and atmospheric phenomena from aboard NASA’s P-3 research aircraft. The airborne observatory, based at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, is shown here in January 2022 at Wallops during NASA’s IMPACTS mission studying snowfall from winter storms. Image Credits: NASA/Keith Koehler.

NASA’s Student Airborne Science Activation program (SaSa) is on a mission to broaden the ethnic and racial diversity of researchers in the Earth sciences. SaSa is designed for first- and second-year undergraduates enrolled at Minority-Serving Institutions to participate in an authentic NASA field research campaign. The program’s name is an acronym, but has a double meaning. In Kiswahili (the language also known as Swahili), the word “sasa” means “now.” It was adopted by the program to convey the urgency of their mission to mentor, train, and inspire students from historically underrepresented groups in the geosciences.

This summer, SaSa’s first 25 participants will spend eight weeks gaining hands-on experience in all components of a scientific research campaign. That includes flying aboard the NASA P-3 research aircraft to collect measurements of land, ocean, and atmospheric phenomena. The program also includes mentoring, professional development, and networking opportunities to prepare these students to enter STEM graduate programs – those in science, technology, engineering, and math – and, later, NASA and research careers.

Turning Big Data into Urgent Earth Discoveries

Image above: Using the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX), researchers were able to forecast how global temperature might change up to 2100 under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, with the ability to zoom in to view forecasts for individual days at the scale of a single city or town. For this forecast, NEX took a widely used climate dataset and refined its projections down to a scale of about 15 miles. Image Credit: NASA.

The NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) leans on Big Data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and NASA’s supercomputers at Ames to help scientists make new discoveries with huge datasets coming from the agency’s Earth System Observatory. Among the many projects of NEX are initiatives to understand climate projections on a finer scale and to study how climate changes, such as increasing risk of wildfires and heat waves, might affect a single town or region. The data from NEX projects becomes available in a NASA archive and helps inform decisions by policymakers, agencies, and other stakeholders about our climate future.

NEX is also a unique work environment for sharing, exploring, and analyzing huge datasets that empowers near-real-time understanding of complex phenomena from local to global scales and prepares scientists for new data coming from the Earth System Observatory. NEX is a key platform for stepping up to Earth’s challenges – today and in the future.

NASA’s Super-Efficient Supercomputers

Image above: The Modular Supercomputing Facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley gives researchers the ability to run thousands of complex simulations more quickly and with lower water and energy needs as they continue to support agency missions. Image Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart.

High-end computing plays a big role in NASA’s work, but number-crunching supercomputers pump out a lot of heat. Ames’s Modular Supercomputing Facility (MSF), which opened its doors in 2019, is one of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world.

Supercomputing has enabled remarkable breakthroughs in NASA’s science and engineering missions, including in Earth science, exoplanet discovery, aircraft safety, and more. With the demand for NASA supercomputing expected to grow, the MSF was designed to flexibly expand Ames’ processing power while drastically reducing the resources naturally needed for its operation.

Ames’ approach to the MSF’s design cleverly uses the local climate to cool high-powered computers naturally. Annually, the MSF required only 14% of the energy needed for cooling, and reduced water usage by 96%, as compared with the traditional NASA Advanced Supercomputing Facility (NAS). These savings are made possible by cooling technology that uses outside air and evaporative methods ideally suited to the climate in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Investing in Eco-First Innovations

Image above: John Freeman, chief science officer of Intrinsyx Environmental, stands in front of the original grove of poplars planted at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. In September 2021, nine seasons after planting, the trees were more than 50 feet tall.  Image Credit:  Intrinsyx Environmental.

Imagine if trees could help purify contaminated water and eating a fungus could serve as a sustainable protein alternative to meat. These are two projects NASA is helping to make a reality.

The Ames campus served as a testing ground for a project using symbiotic microbes in trees to purify groundwater. Conducted in partnership with Intrinsyx, about 1,000 trees helped eliminate contamination that had existed for decades. The project has expanded to over 30 sites around the US, helping to heal environments impacted by pollutants – and showing how even the smallest forms of biology, through trees, can change lives for the better. This project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation (SBIR) program and is supported by researchers at Ames.

Even with new purification techniques, water is still a precious resource – often used up in the production of food. Through NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, Natures Fynd is collaborating with NASA and Montana State University to develop bioreactors to cultivate an edible fungus that uses little water and could serve as a source of protein in space. Bioreactors are manufactured devices designed to support a certain biological process. While Nature’s Fynd is developing this bioreactor system with NASA for use in space, where water must be preserved and used sparingly, it also provides an energy-rich source of food on Earth. As a protein source that does not release atmosphere-damaging methane produced by most livestock, it could transform the way we eat on Earth as well.

Marking a Decade of Sustainable Building

Image above: An aerial view of Sustainability Base at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Image Credit: NASA/Eric James.

When it was built 10 years ago at Ames, Sustainability Base was one of the greenest buildings in the federal government. It can house over 200 employees, and is an exemplar of sustainable design that brings many of the principles used for closed-loop systems on spacecraft down to Earth. Sustainability Base was designed to go beyond simply ‘not hurting’ the environment, but to be beneficial to nature and humans. It generates more energy than it needs to operate and uses 90% less potable water than conventional buildings of comparable size. Materials to build and furnish the building were locally procured and often recycled. For example, the oak planks that line the lobby floor were reclaimed from an old NASA wind tunnel.

The building’s concept was designed for a NASA competition in 2007 by architect William McDonough, a pioneer in sustainable architecture, alongside Dr. Steve Zornetzer, the Associate Center Director for Ames at the time. By implementing closed-loop technology, similar to what’s used by NASA to sustain life in space, the project is proof not only that this level of sustainable building is possible, but it can contribute to the health of our planet.

Related links:

Student Airborne Science Activation program (SaSa):

Earth System Observatory:

Ames Research Center:

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Abigail Tabor.

Best regards,

ESA’s Space Environment Report 2022


ESA - Clean Space logo.

April 22, 2022

In brief

Our planet is surrounded by spacecraft carrying out important work to study our changing climate, deliver global communication and navigation services and help us answer important scientific questions.

But their orbits are churning with deadly fragments of the past – fast-moving pieces of defunct satellites and rockets trapped in orbit – that threaten our future in space.

Space Debris - It's Time To Act

In 2002, the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) published the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines. The measures described in the guidelines set out how to design, fly, and dispose of space missions in ways that prevent the creation of further debris. They were major step for the protection of our important orbits and have served as the baseline for space policy, national legislation and technical standards for two decades.

Since 2016, ESA’s Space Debris Office has published an annual Space Environment Report to provide a transparent overview of global space activities and determine how well these and other international debris-reduction measures are improving the long-term sustainability of spaceflight.

Here are some of the key findings of the 2022 report.


- More satellites are being launched today than ever before.

- This is driven by the increasing number and scale of commercial satellite constellations in low-Earth orbit.

- Most, but not all, rocket bodies launched today are safely placed in compliant disposal orbits or removed from low-Earth orbit before they can fragment into clouds of dangerous debris.

- But active satellites today still have to dodge out of the way of objects that were launched decades ago and have since broken into fragments.

- Not enough satellites are removed from heavily congested low-Earth orbits at the end of their lives.

- Technological advances are improving our ability to spot and track smaller fragments of space debris.

- Our behaviour in space is improving but is still unsustainable in the long term.

We've spotted more than 30 000 pieces of space debris

The number of tracked pieces of space debris is now over 30 000

The amount of space debris in orbit continues to rise.

More than 30 000 pieces of space debris have been recorded and are regularly tracked by space surveillance networks. As our technology improves, we are spotting an increasing number of unidentified objects (UI). Due to the time elapsed between their creation and our observation, it is difficult to trace their origins to a specific “fragmentation event”.

Based on ESA models, the true number of objects larger than 1 cm in size is likely over one million.

Smaller satellites; larger constellations

Graphic above: Satellite constellations are growing in number and scale as technology becomes more reliable and compact.

The 2020s have marked the beginning of a new era in spaceflight.

The technology required for large satellite constellations has quickly become more reliable and compact. As a result, the last two years has seen an enormous increase in the number of commercial satellites launched to near-Earth space, with the vast majority being smaller satellites weighing between 100 - 1000 kg.

Many of these constellations are launched to provide communication services around the globe. They have great benefits, but will pose a challenge to long-term sustainability.

More satellites are sharing a ride

Graphic above: Travelling into space used to be a lonely affair - now many satellites ride-share into orbit.

Constellations are also changing the way satellites get into space. 2021 saw a record number of rocket rockets carrying multiple satellites into orbit at the same time. This reduces the launch cost per satellite, but often makes it more difficult for surveillance networks to spot and keep track of individual objects.

Low-Earth orbit is getting crowded

Graphic above: Satellites in low-Earth orbit receive an increasing number of close encounter alerts every year.

The increase in launch traffic and the long-lasting nature of space debris in low-Earth orbit is causing a significant number of close encounters, known as "conjunctions", between active satellites and other objects in heavily congested orbits.

This plot shows number of times a typical satellite at various altitudes experienced a possible collision alert during 2021.

At lower altitudes, satellites more frequently encounter small satellites and constellations. At higher altitudes, they more often encounter debris objects left over from a small number of famous and significant fragmentation events – visible in this plot in shades of blue.

Not all alerts require evasive action. But as the number of alerts increases, it will become impossible for spacecraft operators to respond to them all manually. ESA is developing automated systems that use artificial intelligence and other technologies to help operators carry out “collision avoidance manoeuvres” and reduce the number of false alarms.

We are making progress in some areas

Many rocket bodies launched today are disposed of responsibly

One positive note for the debris environment is that many rocket bodies launched today to deliver satellites into low-Earth orbit are disposed of sustainably. Some are burned up using a “controlled reentry” into Earth’s atmosphere, while others are placed in orbits that naturally decay within 25 years.

Rocket bodies are the largest objects we send to space and their removal from busy orbital highways reduces the chance they explode or fragment into many pieces of dangerous debris.

More satellites need to be disposed of responsibly at the end of their mission

An increasing number of satellites reaching the end of their mission in low-Earth orbit are being disposed of responsibly, but there is still work to be done. An increasing percentage of disposal attempts are successful, but too many are left drifting in important orbits with no attempt made to remove them.

A successful removal rate of at least 90% for all types of space object is required to limit the growth rate of space debris, before we can start cleaning it up.

But we need to do more

While we may be more responsible with what we launch today, our current efforts are not enough.

Our current behaviour could leave some orbits inhospitable in future

If we don’t significantly change the way we use launch, fly and dispose of space objects, an “extrapolation” of our current behaviour into the future shows how the number of catastrophic in-space collisions could rise.

Long term, this could lead to “Kessler Syndrome”, the situation in which the density of objects in orbit is high enough that collisions between objects and debris create a cascade effect, each crash generating debris that then increases the likelihood of further collisions. At this point, certain low-Earth orbits will become entirely inhospitable.

It’s Time to Act

Time to Act

The most effective way to avoid this situation is for more space actors to follow the IADC’s space debris mitigation guidelines – doing more to prevent in­-orbit explosions, avoid in-orbit collisions, and dispose of spacecraft safely at the end of their mission.

Another necessary step is to start actively cleaning up the space environment – first removing existing, larger debris objects from busy regions before they can break apart into debris that threatens spacecraft even decades later. In April 2022, the Copernicus Sentinel-1A Earth observation satellite had to perform an evasive manoeuvre to avoid a fragment of such a rocket launched 30 years ago.

ClearSpace-1 will be the first mission to remove a piece of space debris from orbit. The spacecraft will rendezvous with, capture and safely bring down a 112 kg defunct rocket part, launched in 2013, for a safe atmospheric reentry.

ESA is purchasing the mission as a service from the Swiss start-up ‘Clearspace SA’ to demonstrate the technologies needed for active debris removal and as a first step to establishing a new and sustainable commercial sector in space dedicated to removing high-risk objects from our valuable and limited orbital highways.

Related links:

Space Debris:

Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee (IADC):

Space Environment Report:


Animation, Graphics, Text, Credits: European Space Agency (ESA).


jeudi 21 avril 2022

Station Crew Busy with Research as Managers Work Ax-1, Crew-4 Missions


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

April 21, 2022

The four private astronauts from Axiom Space are now due to depart the International Space Station on Saturday night and return to Earth the next day. Four commercial crew astronauts are also looking ahead to their mission aboard the orbiting lab set to begin after the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax1-) crew departs.

NASA, SpaceX and Axiom Space are planning for the Ax-1 crew to undock from the station inside the Dragon Endeavour crew ship on Saturday at 8:35 p.m. EDT. Ax-1 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria will lead Pilot Larry Connor and Mission Specialists Mark Pathy and Eytan Stibbe back to Earth inside Endeavour for a splash down at 1:46 p.m. on Sunday off the coast of Florida.

Image above: The SpaceX Dragon Endurance crew ship is pictured from a window aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour crew ship. Image Credit: NASA.

The SpaceX Crew-4 mission awaits its launch date as mission managers monitor weather conditions at the Ax-1 splashdown site and review mission data after Endeavour’s return. The Falcon 9 rocket that will the launch the Crew-4 astronauts to space inside the Dragon Freedom crew ship successfully fired its nine Merlin engines on Wednesday during its static fire test. In the meantime, Crew-4 Commander Kjell Lindgren with Pilot Robert Hines and Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, continue training for their mission while in quarantine at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Operations on the station continue normally, as the four Expedition 67 astronauts worked on an array of space research on Thursday. Commander Tom Marshburn joined of NASA joined ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer for muscle measurements and ultrasound scans. The duo contributed to the Myotones human research experiment to understand how weightlessness affects the biochemical properties of muscles. NASA Flight Engineers Kayla Barron and Raja Chari collected blood and urine samples and stowed them in science freezer for future analysis for more insights into spaceflight’s impact on the human body. The quartet also checked out their Dragon spacesuits as they look ahead to their departure inside the Dragon Endurance soon after the Crew-4 astronauts begin their station mission.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: ESA

The three cosmonauts living and working on the orbital lab focused on their suite of science and upkeep tasks. Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev studied piloting techniques that may be used on future planetary or robotic missions. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Denis Matveev attached a heart monitor to himself then photographed the condition of Russian module windows. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov pursued cardiac research during the morning before working on Russian life support and photography gear.

Related article:

NASA, Axiom Space, SpaceX Wave Off Private Astronaut Mission Undocking

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Commercial Crew Program:

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4:


Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards,

SpaceX Starlink 42 launch


SpaceX - Falcon 9 / Starlink Mission patch.

April 21, 2022

SpaceX Starlink 42 liftoff

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 53 Starlink satellites (Starlink-42) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on 21 April 2022, at 17:51 UTC (13:51 EDT).

SpaceX Starlink 42 launch & Falcon 9 first stage landing, 21 April 2022

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon 9’s first stage (B1060) previously supported eleven missions: Transporter-2, GPS-III Space Vehicle 03, Turksat-5A and eight Starlink missions.

Related links:



Image, Video, Text, Credits: SpaceX/SciNews/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.


Station Crew Awaits Ax-1 Departure and Crew-4 Launch


ISS - Expedition 67 Mission patch.

April 21, 2022

The integrated NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX teams have agreed on a plan for the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) crew to undock from the International Space Station at 8:35 p.m. EDT Saturday, April 23, for a splashdown off the coast of Florida about 1:46 p.m. Sunday, April 24. The decision was made based on the best weather for splashdown of the first private astronaut mission to visit the International Space Station and the return trajectory required to bring the crew and the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft back to Earth safely.

NASA will provide live coverage of departure activities beginning at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, April 23, with hatch closure targeted for 6:30 p.m. Coverage will resume at 8:15 p.m. for the undocking. Teams will continue to monitor weather at the splashdown sites prior to undocking to ensure conditions are acceptable for a safe recovery of the Ax-1 astronauts and Dragon spacecraft.

Image above: International Space Station Configuration. Six spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragons Endurance and Endeavour; the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-21 crew ship and the Progress 79 and 80 resupply ships. Image Credit: NASA.

NASA and Axiom mission planning prepared for the possibility of additional time on station for the private astronauts, and there are sufficient provisions for all 11 crew members aboard the space station. The Ax-1 crew continues to work through previously planned mission activities. The Ax-1 crew and Dragon spacecraft remain healthy.

The departure of Dragon Endeavour from the space station will clear the docking port for the arrival of Dragon Freedom and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts. The earliest potential launch opportunity for the Crew-4 mission is 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, with additional opportunities Wednesday, April 27, and Thursday, April 28. These launch opportunities are undergoing a more detailed program review to ensure they align with integrated operational timelines. The teams want to provide a two-day gap after Ax-1 return for data reviews from splashdown and to prepare for the Crew-4 launch, including the staging of recovery assets.

Image above: NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts pose in front of the NASA “worm” logo during a training session at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left to right: NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist Jessica Watkins; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 pilot Robert “Bob” Hines; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 commander Kjell Lindgren; and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Crew-4 mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy. Image Credit: NASA.

The Crew-4 astronauts spent last night at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida rehearsing the countdown to their launch inside the SpaceX Dragon Freedom, the company’s newest crew ship. Overnight, Crew-4 Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines with Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, put on their pressure suits and entered their vehicle conducting a successful dry dress rehearsal. The Falcon 9 rocket, with the Freedom perched atop, stands at Launch Complex 39A.

Expedition 67 crewmates Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, who are also the SpaceX Crew-3 commander and pilot respectively, spent a little time on Wednesday with their upcoming departure activities. The pair, along with Kayla Barron of NASA and Matthias Maurer of ESA, will wait for the arrival of their Crew-4 replacements before returning to Earth a few days later inside the Dragon Endurance vehicle. The four astronauts had a light-duty day on Wednesday scheduling in some housecleaning tasks.

Smart Spacewalker - The European Robotic Arm. Image Credit: ESA

Over in the Russian segment of the station, cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev wrapped up their post-spacewalk activities today stowing their tools and discussing the excursion with specialists on the ground. The duo kicked off a series of spacewalks on April 18 to configure the European robotic arm for operations on the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov started his day with electronics and communications maintenance before studying future spacecraft and robotic piloting techniques in the afternoon.

Related links:

Expedition 67:

Commercial Crew Program:

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4:

Nauka multipurpose laboratory module:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.